Marek Więcek's Home-Built Pegasus Brings Back a Famiclone From Poland's Console Gaming History

Revisiting a childhood spent playing a genuine NES is easy enough, but a rare Famiclone called the Pegasus? Easier to build your own!

Gareth Halfacree
22 days agoRetro Tech / Gaming / HW101

For nostalgia-surfers eager to recreate a childhood spent with a Nintendo Entertainment System or Sega Genesis, functional units are easily sourced — but what about those who grew up with something rarer, like Marek Więcek and his Pegasus? There's only one choice: Build your own.

"In English speaking countries [the] name 'Pegasus' probably doesn't carry any special meaning for video game enthusiasts," Więcek explains. "But almost everyone who grew up in Poland during the 90s feels rush of nostalgia while hearing about 'Pegasus.' What was that? From modern perspective nothing especially spectacular — just a unlicensed clone of Nintendo Famicom, distributed at market places. But when I was a child it was a dream."

If you grew up with a rare Famiclone as your console, the easiest way to revisit it might be to build your own. (📹: Marek Więcek)

Developed by Micro Genius, the Pegasus, first released in Poland in 1991, was designed to be a clone of the Nintendo Famicom, the Japanese console, which was brought to the US as the NES. Using custom game pads with built-in turbo-fire functionality, the console was compatible with 60-pin Famicom cartridges — though rampant piracy meant most gamers of the era played bootleg multi-game cartridges rather than expensive imports.

"I was able to buy two chips that were used in that in that console (or at least in early hardware revisions, later they were using just a 'NES on chip' under epoxy blob): UA6527 (CPU) and UA6538 (graphics controller)," Więcek explains of the project. "At the beginning I wasn't even sure if the chips I got are in working condition. Without any compatible device I wasn't able to simply test them. Because of that I ditched my initial idea to design and etch PCB for this project. Instead I decided to build the device on universal board, using wire."

The resulting DIY Pegasus uses the same components as the original, but places them in a prototyping board with wire-wrap connections underneath. A replica cartridge slot accepts 60-pin Famicom cartridges and compatibles, just like the original, while an adapter provides support for a subset of NES cartridges.

"[The] first step was to wire just a CPU and test it by forcing NOP instruction execution with resistors," Więcek writes. "Then I wired memory and executed simple code for blinking LED connected to CPU integrated IO. When that worked just fine, I finally added graphic chip, cartridge slot and pad connectors, using low-res scans of schematics I found on-line as my only reference."

Więcek's full write-up is available on the project's Hackaday.io page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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